Is religion a “sufficient” factor to cause terrorism?

I have this online class on Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Comparing Theory and Practice. So I asked some of my classmates by posting in a discussion board:

Is religion the cause of terrorism? Personally, no matter how much I try to dichotomize religion and terrorism in Islamic countries, I get confused whether the former is caused by religion. I read Bin Laden’s biography and realized that his act of terrorism is somehow influenced with his religious philosophy, thoughts about this?

Here are some of the interesting answers and ideas I got from them:

“From an African perspective yes, but else where i cant tell in Africa i have pictured all the terror acts carried out and a dozen of then has religious links thou most scholars have pointed accusing fingers at the government actors. never the less the fashion they use to achieve all this is the religious ideologies which are plated at the tables of the religious leaders who in turn trade them (brain wash ) the unsuspecting believer. and before you know it they are preaching the gospel of seven virgins in heaven which in Nigeria has caused a lot of problem and lost of lives and has as well instill fear in many.”Asogo Terkula (Archaeologist by profession and a development worker, and working in north-eastern Nigeria a region prompt to terror)

“As much as many might want to i feel, religion is mostly abused to make terrorist acts seem legit. REAL religious people do not spread fear or violence and are not hostile.I do agree that, religion may be food for extremists. Because religion is not fact, its believe. So religious persons can be influenced accordingly. Religion may pose a risk element as such to create terrorism but its not the cause.” Yana Krauwer

“I will submit that the answer to this varies from region to region; it can be a “yes” for some and a “no” for others. What appears as religion-based terrorism may actually be due to ethnic, political or socio-economic reasons. For example, where two neighbouring or even overlapping ethnic groups are fighting over scarce resources, as in the case of farmers and cattle rearers in Nigeria; where the farmers are predominantly Christians and the cattle rearers are majorly muslims; then it would not necessarily be tagged terrorism caused by religion.

Another case is a terrorist group in the Niger Delta region of my country with members who either have a Christian background or even bear Christian name. This group, until recently fought the Nigerian government over the issues of resource allocation and all. They however had no religious basis for the terror they caused. Nevertheless, an Islamic sect that has been known to cause the most terror in Nigeria has declared that their religion says no to western education, hence they claim that the killings and maiming they cause are in line with their extreme religious beliefs.” – Olade Awe

“At least speaking about the Islamic faith I can vouch that religion is 100% responsible for terrorism. There are no doubts about this. I have seen students on this forum accusing others of bigotry for merely stating a fact. It shows me how naive and rather small minded you Westerners can be. Don’t call anyone a bigot unless you know your subject well. As a former Muslim myself I stand behind anyone who come forth and admit that the Islamic foundation texts encourage terrorism. This is well known in the Arab world. Arabs just don’t want to admit that terrorism is wrong because that would make jihad wrong, and how can jihad be wrong when the command comes from the prophet Mohammed himself? That would be blasphemy and blasphemy would make Muslims kuffars. Kuffar equal to apostasy.” Mohammed Abdul Wahhab

“The answer depends on what you worship. If your religion is power and you worship power and wealth then it is the cause of violence and war.”Arfon Rhys

Follow me on Twitter: @rjamesbarrete


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